VetFamily: Rachel Smith, Miss USA

Rachel Smith

Army brats can wear a crown, too. Born of two military parents, 2007 Miss USA Rachel Smith holds military support one of her chief causes as the reigning queen.

Rachel Smith was born on a U.S. Army base in Panama. She lived in Clarksville, Tennessee after both of her parents were stationed at Fort Campbell. She attended Clarksville Academy and graduated from Davidson Academy.

Ambitious and intelligent and with aspirations of making the world a better place, Smith is a magna cum laude graduate – a semester early – from Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee in 2006 with a bachelor of science in Journalism. She received a full tuition scholarship to attend Belmont in recognition of her community service activities and academic achievements in high school.While at Belmont, she interned for eight months in Chicago with Harpo Productions, a company owned by Oprah Winfrey. She was later chosen by Oprah to volunteer at her Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa.

Supporting the military is key for Rachael, too. On her blog at missusa.com, she says: “Since the beginning of my year as Miss USA, I made a priority to participate in events supporting our troops. My family’s ties to our military (Army to be exact, Hoo-ah!) are very strong. In particular, I have always expressed interest in traveling to Iraq, to observe the progress that is taking place with the war first-hand and to personally thank the troops. So when the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Michael Mullen extended an invitation to me to join him on his USO holiday tour, I was definitely in!”

In December 2007, it happened – actually without much Miss USA-like fanfare, as she boarded a government plane that for security purposes had no announced itinerary. She then traveled to Kuwait, Iraq and Naval Station Rota Spain on a USO tour along with Kid Rock, Robin Williams, Lewis Black and Lance Armstrong.

Miss USA, Miss Universe and Beyond

If anyone said winning Miss USA would put her on easy street, they guessed wrong. Soon after, she met many unsympathetic anti-Americans at the follow-up Miss Universe pageant in Mexico City. It was a high-profile attack that could have shaken the confidence of many.

She persevered. Despite several rounds of Anti-American boos from the host Mexican crowd during the Miss Universe Pageant (repeating its 1993 treatment of an American contestant when the event was also held in Mexico City), and a well-publicized fall she took during the pageant as well, she kept her composure to finish in the Top 5 among the 77-candidate field worldwide. Highlighting her comeback was a thank you she gave to the crowd, in Spanish, drawing cheers from the crowd that previously booed her.

Beyond the crown, Smith’s career ambition is to be a reputable journalist at a national or international level “so that I may educate the general public about the world they are living in.” She also desires to one day be the founder of her own philanthropic organization directed towards education, especially for those in impoverished areas within the USA and internationally.

Miss USA Notables
Family ties to the U.S. Military are not without precedent. A 2004 Miss USA contestant, Miss New York Jaclyn Nesheiwat, traced a path through Iraq, although with a slightly more personal twist. In March of that year, Miss New York visited her sister Army Captain Julia Nesheiwat (right) during lunch at the Coalition Provisional Authority headquarters dining facility in Baghdad, as part of another special tour through the region.

Image Credit: http://abc7.com/archive/7925633/

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